Afghanistan : The Meshrano Jirga
The Constitution of 4 January 2004 shall establish a bicameral Parliament - the National Assembly - already provided by the Constitution of 1 October 1964.
General elections should be held within one year after the presidential election which occurred on 9 October 2004. They were held on 18 September 2005.
During this period, the National Assembly's powers shall be transferred to the Government. The legislative provisions adopted so far shall be submitted to the National Assembly in its first session. They shall be enforceable as long as they are not cancelled by the National Assembly.
I - COMPOSITION
102 members, or three times the number of existing provinces (currently 34).
The Meshrano Jirga is composed of three different thirds of members:
1 - one representative from each of the 34 Provincial Councils, indirectly elected;
2 - one representative from each of the 34 local District Councils, indirectly elected;
3 - 34 qualified personnalities nominated by the President
II - ELECTORAL AND NOMINATION SYSTEM
Voting system: Two-round majority vote.
Term of office:
- four years for senators elected by the province councils;
- three years for those elected by the district councils;
- five years for appointed members.
Age of eligibility or nomination: 35 years
Half of the members appointed by the President of the Republic shall be women.
Representation of minorities :
Two members appointed by the President shall be disabled people, and two others shall be nomads (Kuchis).
- a senator position with being a member of the local electoral council;
- a parliamentary with a ministerial position.
First elections: 18 September 2005
First nominations: December 2005
Nota: Due to problems related to the definition of certain boundaries and estimates of population figures, District Council elections were not held in September 2005. The National Assembly, once constituted, will resolve such issues. To fill the 34 seats reserved for members of the District Council, the Meshrano Jirga will include, in addition to its 34 appointed members, two representatives from each Provincial Council, or 68 other members. Half of these (34 members) will occupy the posts in question until District Council elections can be held.
III - SYSTEM OF SESSIONS
A - ordinary sessions
Two per year lasting no more than 9 months.
B - extraordinary sessions
On the request of the President of the Republic.
C - extension of a session
When the assembly examines a draft finance bill, a development project or a text concerning public security, territory integrity or independence of the country, the period of sessions shall be extended until the adoption of these texts.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
A - legislative power
1) Legislative initiative
Members of the Meshrano Jirga (senators) as well as those of the Wolesi Jirga (representatives) or the government shall possess the right of legislative initiative, except concerning budget and financial matters for which the government shall be the only competent. In the judiciary field, the initiative shall belong to the Government referred to by the Supreme Court.
2) Right of amendment
Constitution article 95
3) Legislative procedure
Drafts bills coming from governmental initiative shall be first submitted to the Wolesi Jirga. Then they shall be submitted to the Meshrano Jirga, after their approval by the Wolesi Jirga. The Upper Chamber shall have 15 days to tell its decision.
The chambers' agenda shall contain in priority Government draft bills declared as urgent on its request.
If a public bill was submitted by 10 members of one the two chambers and approved by one-fifth of the members of the chamber, it could be listed on its work agenda.
If one of the two chambers rejects the other's decision, a combined committee shall be in charge of finding an agreement. The decision of the combined committee shall be implemented after its approval by the President of the Republic.
In the case the combined committee fails in finding an agreement, the rejected decision shall be considered as null and void. But, during the next period of session, if the decision is approved by the Wolesi Jirga, with two third majority, it could be endorsed by the President (Constitution. Article 100).
In the event of a failure by the joint committee on a text containing finance provisions, the draft bill may be adopted by the Wolesi Jirga with the majority of its members.
The Meshrano Jirga (as well as the Wolesi Jirga) shall examine in priority texts for which the government required the urgency.
4) Special provisions relating to budget and planification
The Nation budget and development projects presented by the government shall be submitted to the Wolesi Jirga, only with consultative advice from the Meshrano Jirga.
If the budget is not adopted before the beginning the financial year, the previous budget shall be implemented until the adoption of the new budget.
5) Special provisions relating to elections
A proposal about the modification of the election legislation shall not be listed on the work agenda of the Parliament during the year before the elections.
6) Legislative decrees
In the event of suspension of the Wolesi Jirga's work, the Government may adopt legislative dispositions requiring the urgency, on all subjects save budget and finance issues.
These provisions shall be submitted to the National Assembly within 30 days from its first session. In the event of a refusal from the National Assembly, these provisions shall be cancelled.
B - SUPERVISORY POWERS
Parliamentary committees shall be allowed to question every minister on specific issues.
The person questioned shall provide an oral or a written answer.
2) Relations with the Government
a) Nomination of ministers
Ministers shall be appointed by the President and presented for approval to the National Assembly.
b) Annual report to the Parliament
At the end of each financial year, the Government shall present a report to the National Assembly about the work done and its major projects for the next year.
c) Participation of ministers
The Meshrano Jirga - as well as the Wolesi Jirga - may ask ministers for their participation to its work, thus giving them an equal right.
3) International field
The National Assembly shall be competent to endorse international treaties and agreements as well as to withdraw Afghanistan from one of them.
V - SPECIAL PROVISIONS
1) Joint sessions
The two chambers may hold joint sessions:
- when the period of sessions is opened by the President of the Republic;
- when the President considers it as necessary.
In those cases, the session shall be chaired by the President of the Wolesi Jirga.
2) The Great Assembly (Loya Jirga)
a) It shall be composed of:
1 -members of the National Assembly;
2 - presidents of the provinces and district councils.
b) The Loya Jirga shall be convened in three cases:
- to decide on issues relating to independence, national sovereignty, territory integrity and superior interests of the country;
- to modify the Constitution;
- to prosecute the President of the Republic for crime against Humanity, high treason or crime.
3) War declaration and peace
The President of the Republic shall declare war and peace with the approval of the National Assembly.
4) Army operations abroad
The sending of armed force conscripts abroad shall be decided by the President with the approval of the National Assembly.
5) Emergency state
The emergency state - as well as its suspension - shall be declared by the President with the approval of the National Assembly, on the whole country or only on a part of it.
Circumstances that may justify it are the following: war, threatening of war, serious rebellion, natural disasters, or similar circumstances which do not allow to protect the independence of the Nation by implementing constitutional provisions.
The extension of the state of emergency beyond two months shall require the agreement of the National Assembly.
During the state of emergency, the President may transfer the competences of the National Assembly to the Government, after consultation of the Presidents of the two Chambers and of the Supreme Court.
The same way, with the agreement of the Presidents of the two Chambers and of the Supreme Court, he may suspend or limit some individual freedoms listed in the Constitution (inviolability of the individual, right to demonstrate, correspondence privacy, home inviolability).
If it ends during the state of emergency, the presidential or parliamentary term of office may be extended as far as four months.
The Constitution cannot be modified during the state of emergency.
6) Suspension of the President of the Republic's functions
a) The president presents his resignation to the National Assembly
In case the President and the Vice-President shall die simultaneously, the interim shall be carried out by the President of the Meshrano Jirga.
c) Trial of the President
If he is accused of crimes against Humanity, high treason or crime, with the majority of 2/3 of members of the Loya Jirga, and on the initiative of the Wolesi Jirga, the President shall be tried by a special court composed of three members from the Wolesi Jirga and three members from the Supreme Court, appointed by the Loya Jirga, and the President of the Meshrano Jirga.
7) Revision of the Constitution
The initiative of the revision shall belong to the President or to the majority of National Assembly members.
The draft shall be prepared by a committee composed of members from the Government, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, on a presidential decree.
It shall be adopted with a majority of 2/3 of the Loya Jirga members.